Songs in Mason & Dixon

Pynchon loves to embed song lyrics into the text of his stories, but why? For him the writing process does not involve only the traditional dialogue and description; music heavily colors his books too.

An interesting discovery was made by someone in the Pynchon community that connects a song from Mason & Dixon (p. 283-4; George & Martha Washington's duet) to "Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong" (sung by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in An Officer and a Gentleman). Such a connection implies that Pynchon could have written the M&D song intentionally to fit with the tune and melody from "Love Lifts Us Up." This possibility opens up the opportunity for a surmountable research effort, the aim of which would be to discover which other of Pynchon's lyrics fit to existing songs (such research is par for the course when attempting to decode any Pynchon novel). With many minds serving as the eyes and ears for such a project it may be possible for other tunes to be connected.

The aim of this page is to serve as a database to which interested readers can refer in their attempts to decipher Pynchon's songs, and ultimately to better understand his novels. If a connection to an existing song is made, that song can be listed directly following the Pynchon lyric.

Below are the songs that Pynchon writes for Mason & Dixon, organized by the order in which they appear.

Songs in Mason & Dixon

P. 18

Ask me anything you please,
The Learnèd English Dog am I, well-
Up on ev'rything from Fleas
Unto the King's Mon-og-am-eye,
Persian Princes, Polish Blintzes,
Chinamen's Geo-mancy,--
Jump-ing Beans or Flying Machines,
Just as it suits your Fan-cy.
I quote enough of the Classickal Stuff
To set your Ears a-throb,
Work logarith-mick Versèd Sines
Withal, within me Nob,
-- Only nothing Ministerial, please,
Or I'm apt to lose m' Job,
As, the Learnèd English Dog, to-ni-ight!

P. 27

Gamesters in Trouble, Sweet-Hearts untrue,
Sailors with no one to bid them adieu,
Roistering Fops and the Mast-Pond Brigade, all
Impatient to chat with the Sibylline Maid, singing,
Let us go down, to Hepsie's tonight,
Maybe tonight, she'll show us the Light,--
Maybe she'll cackle, and maybe she'll cry,
But for two and a kick she won't spit in your Eye.
She warn'd Ramillies sailors, Beware of the Bolt,
And the Corsica-bound of Pa-oli's Revolt,--
From lottery Tickets to History's End,
She's the miserable, bug-bitten sailor's best friend, singing,
Let us go down, &c.

P. 34

"Where girls all look like Cleo-
And when you're done you'll simply
Barter 'er,
For yet another twice as
Hot, tra-
La la-la la-la la-la la--
La la la, la..."

P. 40

       -Ce-euh! [with a certain debonair little Mordant upon "euh"],
Con-truh les Sci-

P. 48

Where are the wicked young Widows tonight,
That sail the East India Trade?
Topside with the Captain, below with the Crew,
Beauteously ever display'd.
Oh I wish I was anyplace,
But the Someplace I'm in,
With too many Confusions and Pains,--
Take me back to the Cross-Roads,
Let me choose, once again,
To cruise the East India Lanes.

P. 50

We swore up and down, that we'd sail nevermore,
Thro' waters infested by French-men,
Whilst in Safety and Smugness, all dry on the Shore,
Kept Morton and all of his Hench-men,--
Yet a Shark is a Shark, in the day or the dark,
Be he Minister, fish or King's Be-ench-man,
With a Munch and a Crunch and the Lunch shall be free!
And Good-bye, Royal Soci...e-tee!
For we're off to the Indies, off to the East,
Ho for the Fables and Ho for the Feast,--
Grov'ling like Slaves in the Land of the Turk,
There's nought an Astronomer won't do for the Work.

P. 80

Cape Girrl,
In the Ocean Wind,
Fairer than the full Moon,
Secret as a Sin,--
You're a,
Light Lass,
So the Lads all say,
Sitting on your Stoep, hop-
-Ing Love will pass today...
You keep your Slaves about,
As don't we all,
Yet no one in love is brave,
And even a Slave may fall...
In love with,--
Cape Girl,
When South-Easters blow,
Thro' my Dreams, I know,
To your Arms I'll go,
Cape Girl, don't say no.

P. 82

Out in the Dark where the Malays all feast,
Spices and Veg'table Treats from the East,
Peppers as hot as the Hearth-sides of Hell,
Things that Papa has neglected to tell,--
Curried wild Peacock and Springbok Ragout,
Bilimbi Pickles, and Tamarinds, too,
Bobotie, Frikkadel, Fried Porcupine,
Glasses a-brim with Constantia Wine, singing,
Pass me that Plate,
Hand me that Bowl,
Let's have that Bottle,
Toss me a Roll,
Scoffing and swilling, out under the Sky,
Leaving the Stars to go silently by.

P. 90

I'd rather be in, Skanderoon,
Tho' 'would have to be quite soon,--
This June,--
In Skan-
Not far away,--
Lesser Asia, so they say,--
Minarets and Palms a-sway,
We might lounge about all day,--
Stuf-fing our Gobs,--
With Turkish Delight,--
Securing our Obs,--
Then beginning, the Night...
Crescent Moon,
Caravn, and Muezzin's Tune,
I'll not be forgetting soon
Souvenirs of, Skanderoon!

P. 109

'Twas the Fifth Day of May, in
The Year of our Lord, Seven-
-Teen hundred sixty and Zero,
That the Brave Lord Ferrers
Ascended the Steps, of
The Scaffold, as bold as a Hero...


'I am ready,' said he, 'If you'll
Quote me your Fee,'-- to the
Cruel Hangman's Eye sprang a Tear-oh,--
'Of your silver-trimm'd Coat,
I'll admit I made note,
But must no longer claim it, oh dear, oh!'
'o, my, O Dear O!
You must think I've the morals of Nero!
Be it dangle 'em high, or strangle 'em low,
Hangmen have Feelings, or didn't ye know?'

P. 110

Rol-ling out the Edge-ware Ro-o-oad,--
To where they climb a Ladder-to-go, to sleep,--
The crowd is all a-tiptoe and the skies are bright, 'tis
A lovely day to come and have a Peep.--
He'll drop right thro' the Floor [tick-tock]
He'll dance upon the Air [knock-knock]
Whilst 'neath the Deadly Never-Green
'Tis merry as a Fair,-- and
If you're luc-ky to be short enough,
With no-place much to stare,
Why, you might not even know, you're, there...

P. 130

Well Sailor ahoy,
Put down that Harpoon,
You're a fortunate Boy,
For ye've beach'd on The Moon,
And we Moon Maidens hope,
We shall know ye quite soon,
'Tis the end of our Rope,--
We need Men, in The Moon,
Ah, Men in The Moon,
A miraculous Boon,
Midnight and Noon, we need
Men in The Moon!

P. 136-7

Be the Instrument brazen, or be it Fleshen,
Star-Gazing's ever a Whore's profession,--
(Isn't it?)
Some in a Palace, all Marble and Brick,
Some behind Hedges for less than a kick, tell me
What's it matter,
The Stars will say,
We've been gazing, back at ye,
Many a Day,
And there's nothing we haven't seen
More than one way,
Sing Derry o derry o day...


There are stars yet to see,
There are Planets hiding,
Peepers are we, with a Lust abiding,
Some style it 'Providence,'
Others say, 'God,--'
Some call it even, and some call it Odd,
Yes but what's it matter,
The Stars will say,

P. 143-4

I was only sixteen, upon your wedding day,
I stood outside the churchyard, and cried,
And now I'm working for the man, who carried you away,
And every day I see you by his side.
Sometimes you're smiling,-- sometimes you ain't,
Most times you never look my way,--
I'm still as a Mill-Pond, I'm as patient as a Saint,
Wond'ring if there's things you'd like to say.
Oh, are you day-dreaming of me,
Do you tuck me in at Night,
When he's fast asleep beside you,
Are those Fingers doing right?
How can Love conquer all,
When Love can be so blind? and you've got
Bradley on your Name,
And Mason on your Mind...

P. 168

Here's to the grew, Octuple boys! the
Mon-ster Cheese of fame,
Let's cheer it with, a thund'rous noise,
Then twice more of the same,--
Oh the bells shall ring, and
The guns shall roar,
For the won-derful Octuple Glo'r...
Aye, all the Lads, who push and who-pull,
Ev'ry Master, ev'ry Pupil
Single-ton and married Coople,
Eye at Win-dow, Door and Looph'le,
Ev'ry minim, dram and scruple
Of their Praise is Thine, Octuple!

P. 217

"A young man seeking to advance himself,
Will get him to the nearest Source of Pelf.--
And few of these are more distinctly Pelfier,
Than,-- Long Life, Queen of Schuylkill!-- Philadelphia.' 

P. 224-5

'Nother look,-- at the Army that
Wrote the Book,-- take the Path that you
Should've took-- and you'll be
On your way!
Get, up, and, wipe-off-that-chin,
You can begin, to have a
Whole new other life,--
Soldj'ring for Christ,
Reas'nably priced,--
And nobody's missing
The Kids or th' Wife! So,
Here's the Drill,
Take the Quill,
Sign upon the Line or any-
Where you will,
There's Heretics a-plenty and a
License to kill, if you're a
Brother in the S. of J.!

P. 259

Philadelphia Girls,
Philadelphia Ways,
Heavenly Sights,
Schuylkill-side Nights, and
Phila-delphia Days...

P. 283-4

" 'Tis time to set sail,
Farewell, Portsmouth Ale,
Ta-ta to the gay cantinas,
For we're off, my Girl, to the end of the world
To be there, ere the Tran-sit of Venus.--
She's the something something,-- "


"Goddess of Love
--Shining above,
Without a bit of Meanness,
Tho' we'll have no more fun till she's cross'd o'er the Sun,
'Tis ho, for the Transit of Venus!


Out where the trade winds blow,
Further than Sailors go,
If it's not Ice and Snow,
'Twill be hotter than Hell, we know,
Wave to your Dear, stow all your gear, and
Show a bit of Keenness,
Bid Molly adieu,
She isn't for you,--
For you're for the Transit of Venus!"

P. 319-20

"Ay, Señorit-ta, it
Can't, be sweet-ter, what
Shall-we, do?
What a Fies-ta, not
Much Sies-ta, do you
Think-so, too?
Look ye, the, Moon-is ascend-ding,
You no comprehend ing-
Glés, it's just as well,--
For, I'm-in-your-Spell, what's
That-can't-you-tell? Ay, Seen-

P. 432

Lads and Lasses, pass on down,
'Tis the world-renown's Torp-edo,--
Quite the Toast of London Town,
Admir'd in far-off E-do,--
Na-bobs, Kings and Potentates too, all
Gawkin' at the shocking' sort of things he'll do, for
A tuppenny, step up 'n' he will do, you, too,--
The Torpedo, Voo-
-Ly Voo!

P. 464

'Tis Cream-Pot Love in the Morning Dew,
Again at the Close of Day,
One creeps about, like a Spider who
Might covet some Curds and Whey...
Dairy!-- oh gimme that
Dairy! the lengths that I'd
Go to for its sake are extr'ordin-ary,--


I see a
Cow 'n' just drool,
Act like a fool,
Any time a Cheese, roll by,--
Butter and Milk,
Foods of that Ilk,
Make me shake my head, join'
Me-oh my!
Polly's in the Penthouse,
Molly's in the Mood,
Ev'rybody lookin' for that
Lacktick Food,
Oh Dairy,
Though Seasons may
Vary, I'll every be very
Enchanted, by you!

P. 477

Pepinazos, nunca
Abrazos, Si me
Quieras, Sí
De Veras,
Los Pe-pi-naa-zos!

P. 489

'As legionaries once in Skirts patroll'd
The streets of old Londinium, damp and cold,
So Troops in kilts invade us now, unbeckon'd,
Styling themselves "the highland Forty-second."
Who is this King that fires upon his own,
Who are these Ministers, with heads of Stone,
Holy Experiment! O where be Thou,
Where be they hopes, they fears, they terrors now?' "

P. 518-9

Soldiers like Ramrods, and Sailors like Spars,
Mechanicks and Nabobs, and Gents behind Bars,
Girls, there's no sort of Fellow I've ever pass'd by,--
Not even those Coolies, out there in Shang-hai...
Men have the Sterling, and sixpences too,
So be where there's men, and 'tis meal-time for you,
Mind the Equipment as long as you can,
And don't sell yourself cheap, to some cheese-paring Man.
Ever since Adam stepp'd out of Eve's Sight,
And didn't get back till the following Night,
Men have been lying to Women they bed,
Care-free as felons, yet easy to shed, singing,--

P. 552-3

Say, Mister Fahrenheit,
She doesn't treat me right,
Wish you could warm up that Lady of min,--
Look at you, on the wall,
Don't have a, care at all,--
Even tho' our love has plung'd,
To minus ninety-nine,-- now, Doctor
Celsius, and everyone else, yes,
Say, you've plenty to spare,--
Don't let us freeze, can't you
Send some Degrees, from where-
-Ever you are, out there,--
Mister Fahrenheit,--
Here comes another night,
I shall once again be shiv'ring through,
With no help from your Scale,
'Tis all Ice and Hail, and
I'll turn-into a Snow-man, too.

P. 562-3

In the Black Hole of Calcut-ta,
One scarcely knows quite what t'
Make of Things they groan and mutter,
Why, 'tis cheerier in the Gut-ter,--
Being dark and ooh so stuff-fy,
Little Su-gar for one's Cof-fee,
And the Na-tives, rah-ther huf-fy,--
And the Pil-lows far from fluf-fy,--
Ask of an-y, Bengal-i,
How's the Black Hole, to-night,--
Don't expect him, to be jol-ly,
For there's something, not-quite right! as
The Lamps begin to sput-ter,
All will not be Scones and But-ter,
When the door's at last been shut to
That Black Hole of Cal-cut-ta!
La,-- la,-- la-la, la-la, la-la...

P. 571

Out in the Field,
Down by the Sea,
The Hour has peal'd,
Whoever ye be,
Daughter of Erin,
Scotia's Son,
Let us be daring,--
Let it be done.
It is time for
The Choosing,--
Americans all,
No more refusing
The Cry, and the Call,--
For the Grain to be sifted,
For the Tyrants to fall,
As the Low shall be lifted,--
Americans all...
Till the end of the Story,
Till the end of the Fight,
Till the last craven Tory
Has taken to Flight,
Let us go to the Wall,
Let us march thro' the Pain,
Americans all,
Slaves ne'er again.

P. 670-1

With rangers and strangers, the
Frenchies out there call it
'Rap-ture de West,' Brother,
Sooner or later,
It's go-ing, to take ye,
Away to the sunset,
Along with the rest,
So 'tis hey, ye Dirt-Farmers,
I'm gone, for the Prairies,
And over, the Mountains, and
Down to the Sea, if I
Get back some Day, tho' the
World shine as Morning, yet
Ever will sunsets be
Beck'ning to me...

P. 701

Oh God in thy Mercy forever uncertain,
Upon Whom continue Thy Sheep to Rely...
Pray keep us till Dawn,
Be the Night e'er so long--
All Thy helpless Creation,
Who sleep 'neath the Sky...
For the chances of Night are too many to reckon,
And the Bridge to the Day-light, is ever too frail...
When the Hour of Departure shall strike to the second,
Who will tend to the Journey? who will find us on the Trail?
As once were we Lambs, in a Spring-tide abiding,
As once were we Children, eternal and free,
So shepherd us through,
Where the Dangers be few,--
From Darkness preserve us, returning to Thee.---
For the chances of Night &c...

P. 703

'He wish'd but for a middling Life,
Forever in betwixt
The claims of Lust and Duty,
So intricately mix'd,--
To reach some happy Medium,
Fleet as a golden Beam,
Uncharted as St. Brenda's Isle,
Fugitive as a Dream.
Alas, 'twas not so much the Years
As Day by thieving Day,--
With Debts incurr'd, and Interest Due,
That Dreams were sold to pay,--
Until at last, but one remain'd,
Too modest to have Worth,
That yet he holds within his heart,
As he is held, in Earth.' "

P. 753,
While it lasted,
And it lasted,
Quite a while,--
[Dixon] For the bleary-eyed lad from the coal pits,
[Mason] And the 'Gazer with big-city Style,--
[Both] We came, we peep'd, we shouted with surprise,
Tho' half the time we couldn't tell the falsehoods from the lies,
[Mason] I say! is that a-- [Dixon] No, it ain't! [Mason] I do apologize,--
[Both] This Astronomer's Life, say,
Pure as a Fife, hey,
Quick as a Knife, in
The Da-a-ark!
[Mason] Oh, we went,--
Out to Cape Town, [Dixon] Phila-
Del-phia too,
[Both] Tho'we didn't quite get to Ohi-o,
There were Marvels a-plenty to view...
Those Trees! Those Hills! Those Vegetables so high!
The Cataracts and Caverns,
And the Spectres in the Sky,
[Mason]I say, was that-- [Dixon] I hope not! [Mason] Who
The Deuce said that? [Dixon] Not I!
It's a wonderful place, ho,
Nothing but Space, go
Off on a chase in the Dark...."
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